MEDINA — The start of the new year brings old challenges for some local emergency responders.
“What if it’s your mother or father that’s having a heart attack and you now have to wait 45 minutes for someone to help them?” said volunteer Renae Olson.
In a time when money and funding are at the forefront for emergency services across the country, in Medina, that’s not a problem — the problem is people.
For the 17 volunteers that make up the crew, age is becoming a factor because five of them, including Olson, are over the age of 62 and ready to retire.
“We’re getting burned out covering each other’s calls. Everyone’s getting burned out covering, you know, my squad, so there’s enough people. They’re getting tired of that, and I can’t blame them because they just got done with their shift, and now they’re going back onto my shift because I don’t have enough people on my squad right now,” said Olson.
The issue here is volunteers. New, young ones, the service here badly needs, like 22-year-old Brogan Dehne, who recently quit his job so he could work for the service more.
“I’ve even had neighbors, less than 30 seconds away from me, drop in a code. I ran across the street, worked the code until the ambulance arrived with the paramedics. I had neighbors fall, had neighbors go into diabetic issues. It’s a love for the community. If we’re not there someone’s not going to be able to see their loved one again,” said Dehne.
The Medina Ambulance Service covers 700 square miles. Miles another service would have to pick up should services cease here.
“If we’re not here, the call time for someone to come out from Jamestown or Steele, you have to figure 45 minutes. That’s a long time if you’re having a heart attack or a stroke,” said Olson
With Winter in full swing, calls are on the increase.
“If it’s a winter like the one we’re having now, ice on the roads, we’re pretty busy. Accidents, we got a lot of curves, a lot of bridges in our district. I know the Crystal Springs area, we’ve had three or four calls already this year,” said Dehne.
There is a little good news. The department does have three people training to become an EMT, but that can sometimes take upwards of a year and members we talked with told us if the staffing remains the same, by this time next year the doors might be shut for good.
“Think about what’s going to happen to this community. Do you want it to be your parent or your grandparent or your child? And now we are no longer here,” said Olson.